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FIRST: Air France and OnAir launch 2.5G in-flight Mobile Phone Service
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 20.12.07 - 19:19:32 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 19841x
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After Boeing switched off Connexion by Boeing, Air France has become the first airline in the world to offer an in-flight mobile phone service on international flights.  Using the Mobile OnAir system, passengers travelling on board of one of the Airbus A318 aircraft operating European routes can now send and receive SMS and MMS messages as well as send and receive E-Mails via all phones with Internet access. During the second half of the six month trial, passengers will also be able to make and receive phone calls, with the service being regulated to maintain passengers' comfort and well-being.

Mobile phones connect to a miniature cellular network installed inside this aircraft. A modem transmits data and calls to a satellite that routes them to a ground station. Data and calls are then routed to the passenger's usual telephone network. This network is located inside the aircraft. Passengers' mobile phones only emit at minimum power, which does not risk harming interference with aircraft avionics or ground telecoms network.
Phones are used just like on the ground. To make a call on board the aircraft, passengers simply dial the international prefix (+) or 00 + country code + full number (without the 0). The cost of data exchanges are invoiced by the customers' telephone operator and are comparable to those used for normal international mobile phone calls.

It's neither said at which speed (and with which technology aka GPRS, EDGE or UMTS) the data connection within the aircraft operates (while OnAir only supports 2.5G yet) nor is it known at which speed the satellite connections works. However, the OnAir FAQ speaks of up to 864 Kbps.

Customers on board this Airbus A318, with seating for 123 passengers, can find out more about this service in an information leaflet in seat pockets. Information will also be included in the cabin crew announcement. Air France welcomes feedback on this service from its passengers, who can fill in a twenty-question survey.

At the end of the trial, Air France will examine the feedback and comments made by customers to determine whether to launch this service on all its flights.

The Mobile OnAir onboard mobile telephony system, certified by EASA (European Aviation Safety Authority) does not interfere with the radio-navigation instruments on this Airbus A318 and may only be used at cruising altitude once the new illuminated sign "Switch off your phone" is turned off. The system is activated at 3.000 metres (10.000 feet).

OnAir has roaming agreements with mobile network operators, including the three major operators in France: Orange, Bouygues Telecom and SFR.

Cheers ~ Arne

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